View Full Version : Gone fishing?

08-03-2008, 12:16am
Over in another thread I've been chatting with Arthur about the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye zoom. It's not a "must have" for me, but then it's not a great deal of money as lenses go.

To those of you that own fisheye lenses, or have owned one, has it been:

(a) A toy: used for a week then forgotten
(b) Bit of a novelty: still have it in the bag, rarely use it.
(c) A handy thing to have around
(d) One of your very favourite lenses?

A bit of background: I'd mostly be using it with a 40D. All my existing lenses are Canon: 10-22 (which I use a lot), 24mm tilt-shift (which I'm still trying to get the hang of - love the theory but the practice will take .. er ... a lot more practice), 18-55 IS, 24-105, and various longer things. I essentially only do nature photography.

Never used a fisheye lens or even held one in my hand. Not fussed about spending $600ish if I end up using it a bit, but it would be silly just to buy one and then wind up leaving it in the car all the time. I do love using the 10-22 though.

I'm off up the bush for a few days, but I'll be back to visit this thread when I get back.

08-03-2008, 8:51am
I dont own a fish-eye.

However I know a photographer who does and it was always on his camera when he first bought it. Some really wonderful images. But after the novelty wore off (about a month), I havent seen a single image taken with it, not to say he hasn't, but if he has, he hasnt been showing me, or any of our friends.

I think the fish-eye has its place and can create some dramatic results, but also think it is a bit of a novelty item.

But, I do love looking at a good fish-eye image.

08-03-2008, 10:51am
hey tannin

(a) i use mine regulary mostly for bmx shoots and other kind of action shots i just love the effect !!!
(b) yes and no realy but it does good a good thing to have in the bag
(c) a very handy thing to have around you never know when you are going to use it !
(d) defitley it would probaly be my second favourite lens of course first is my siggy 10-20 but nothing can beat that

ive attached a image i took with mine the other day if u want to talk anymore about the fisheye just pm me


and i see you are from ballarat i am to

08-03-2008, 4:36pm
I don't think I'd race out and buy one, but I like some of the image effects they produce.

08-03-2008, 9:08pm
Thanks Rick, Parksey, Harves. That seems to be a "probably not", a "yes, absolutely", and a clear "maybe". (Great BMX shot Parksey!)

Maybe there is only one way to find out if I'll like it or not...... Any more comments before I mangle the credit card again?

(Yes, I'm back early. I tend to wander a bit at random when I'm after birds, and I happened to be close to home when it got dark tonight, so I thought I might as sleep in a bed for a change. Be off again in the morning, of course.)

08-03-2008, 10:05pm
just a quick note tannin i personally think you should buy a cheapo atm and see if you use it and if you do buy a better one and if u dont you havent mangled the credit card for nothing

09-03-2008, 1:13pm
I had one back in my film days and it didn't real do much for me. Fisheye type photos don't really grab me i'm afraid. I wouldn't be rushing out to buy one anytime soon.


09-03-2008, 5:50pm
Thanks guys. More opinions are good to have. What if I turn the question around the other way?

Let's say I bought the Tokina, had some fun with it, and decided to sell it in few months time. (Frankly, I can't be bothered messing about with E-Bay, not my thing at all, so I'd just offer it here (and perhaps a few other places I visit) and be happy to get, oh, let's say $400ish back.) What are my chances of getting a buyer for it?

09-03-2008, 8:54pm
i think from what i can see not many people like them except for me and a few others i still think u shud buy a say 70 dollar one of ebay see that pic that i posted it was taken with a 70 dollar ebay one !!!

19-03-2008, 12:23am
Parksey is going to shoot me ....

It turns out that the sub-$600 price was a Hong Kong Ebay dealer, and the Oz price for a non-grey market lens is quite a bit more than that. So I ... er .... bought it anyway. Should arrive in the morning with any luck.

PS: before you really do shoot me, Parksey, I mainly do bird photography, so I've more-or-less got used to truly horrendous prices for lenses. This one ain't so bad.

This will be my first ever non-Canon lens. I honestly have no idea whether I'll like it or not. I'll do my best not to offend members' taste by posting horrendously distorted "look Mum, I've bought a fisheye lens!" pictures here. Still, look at it this way - it might encourage me to post something other than birds!

19-03-2008, 12:29am
I'll do my best not to offend members' taste by posting horrendously distorted "look Mum, I've bought a fisheye lens!" pictures here

Er, what else are the silly things good for?

19-03-2008, 12:38am
Now that, Jim, is the $64,000 question. Ask me again and I'll tell you this time next year. :)

I've seen some excellent pictures taken with fisheyes now and again. The key to getting a good one seems to be using that different sort of distortion in a way that doesn't hit the viewer over the head. (Note well: different distortion, for (as you know) all lenses produce distortion, it's an inevitable consequence of making flat pictures out of non-flat objects. The question is, can I learn to use that different style of distortion to my advantage? Only one way to find out!

19-03-2008, 12:44am
Well, it sounds like fun. Good luck!

19-03-2008, 8:21am
tannin im not going to shoot you :violent10: its worth the crack in the long run i wioll be buying one soon and trust me you will love it !!!

19-03-2008, 8:24am
Just to add my 2 cents worth, I'm not really into the effect, on the odd occassion a fisheye image catches my attention, but............similar effect can be done in PS using various distortion tools etc.

19-03-2008, 8:58am
good for you tannin I have two fisheye lenses, a 15mm 2.8 canon and an 8mm Peleng. I use the Canon reasonably often and rarely use the Peleng but I'm glad I have them.

19-03-2008, 3:22pm
i really love fish eye lenses, though i am glad i dont own one as i think i would get sick of the site of it when i used it continuously for 3 months. one of the mac mags this month (don't recall which one?) has some free software which has a feature where you can turn standard panos into fish eye photos, looks pretty neat, has anyone used this?

19-03-2008, 7:56pm
Arrived at lunchtime. Ugly thing, but reassuringly weighty. No lens hood supplied, which is pretty reasonable considering that it does 180 degrees corner to corner at 10mm, meaning the hood would have to be so short as to be practically useless, but it comes with a decent lens cap that probably won't fall off all by itself. (I have never liked the Canon ones.)

I mounted it on a 40D just now and had a play around the office. It has a nice solid feel to it and smooth, firm movements. One thing that could bug a lot of people is that the zoom ring is backwards - or frontwards if you are a Nikon user - you twist clockwise to zoom in. This would have bugged me a lot once upon a time, but doesn't seem to anymore because it's less of a distraction than the way that different lenses swap the positon of the zoom and focus rings.

The Canon EF-S 10-22 has a rear-mounted focus ring, and front-mounted zoom ring, while the 18-55 IS and the 24-105 have front-mounted zoom rings and rear-mounted focus rings. The Tokina is the same as the 24-105 (front focus, rear zoom ring). Although it rotates in the "wrong" directions, my initial impression is that this will be a lot less annoying than the front/rear swap that the 10-22 does.

Some people might wonder what my point is here. Well, the way I see it, the less you have to think about the equipment, the more effectively you are able to think about composition, lighting, stuff that matters. The sooner lens manufacturers put the same things in the same places (front or rear, I don't care, just so long as it's always the same) the better. But the clockwise/anticlockwise thing doesn't seem so intrusive as the frontwards/backwards location of the rings.

Focus takes place at a moderate pace, not notably fast, not notably slow either. Actually, to go the full range from infinity to the very pleasing close focus distance of just 14cm (less than 6 inches) takes quite a while, but with a focal length this short, you are already at or pretty close to infinity most of the time, so in practice it is likely to be a non-issue. The focus motor is moderately loud, not excessively so, and the manual focus ring turns during auto-focus. Given the nature of the lens, I can't see any reason why this should be a problem. There is no filter thread in any case, nor could there be without causing vignetting.

Never having looked through a fish before, I was pleasantly reassured to see that the view isn't wildly different to that of an equally wide-angle rectilinear lens, particularly if you keep it reasonably horizontal. First impression - I am yet to press the shutter button in anger with it - is that I should be able to use this thing quite a bit. At the 10mm end it's very distorted near the corners, but so is any 10mm lens. Short of scrapping the laws of physics, you can't fit an in-the-round scene onto a flat sensor without distortion: the 10-22 distorts it one way, the fish distorts it a different way. We wil have to wait and see, but I shouldn't be surprised to discover that most scenes that work well at 10mm on the 10-22 will work pretty well on the Tokina fish.

At 17mm, things are rather different. The fisheye look is much reduced and (depending on what you point it at) the casual viewer may very well not notice that your lens was anything abnormal.

Anyway, it's a nicely made lens, well-presented, and pleasant to hold. As for the pictures it takes, we will have to wait and see!

19-03-2008, 8:59pm
...it's less of a distraction than the way that different lenses swap the positon of the zoom and focus rings.

Doesn't that give you the SHITS? WHY do they do this?

Sorry. Carry on.

20-03-2008, 6:13am
looking forward to a couple of images Tony, 180 degrees sounds like fun.............. make sure your shoes are clean? :D

13-04-2008, 7:59am
Long story short: I am very pleased with the Tokina 10-17. I've used it quite a lot ofer the last few weeks and soon discovered that it is not by any means a toy or just a novelty lens.

Here is one from yesterday. (20D, 17mm, ISO 200, f/13, 1/250th.)


Keeping the camera horizontal is absolutely critical unless you want to do weird, distorted stuff, but if you do that, it works very well indeed. Sharp as you like, and nice bright colours.

Here is another: (20D, 11mm, ISO 200, f/16, 1/200th.)


And one from last month: (20D, 17mm, ISO 200, f/8, 1/2000th.)


It flares more than my other ultra-wide (the Canon EF-S 10-22) but, as you can see, is nevertheless mostly very good. It does sometimes do some weird stuff with flare (I'll try to find an example to post when I get a spare moment) but I am shooting directly into the sun, which is a pretty hard ask of any lens.

These three samples by the way are all un-cropped and un-processed, just JPGs straight out of the camera shot very flat - perhaps a little over-flat, I usually dial down the saturation in-camera and add it back in PP, but for demonstration purposes with these three I have left the JPG unaltered.

13-04-2008, 8:36am
Tony these are great shots - I can barely tell they are from a fish eye lens. Seems your investment was well worth it.

Considering you have not done any PP to them, these are lovely shots. Great scenery around you.

17-07-2008, 12:04am
It's three months since the Tokina fish arrived, so time for an update.

I'm still very happy with it, and glad I bought it. It really is a bit of an extravagance having two ultra-wides - the fish and the Canon 10-22 - but they do the same things in different ways, so I'm happy to have them both.

What's it like to own one? Mostly, I'll put one or the other on the body I use for ultra-wide shots (the 20D) and leave it there for the whole day or maybe for a week or two. Then, I'll either get bored and swap, or else find a particular shot that really wants the lens I don't have on at the moment and (if I have the other one with me) switch over. Then I'll usually leave that one on for a while. I don't like to swap them too often because the 20D is an absolute bugger for getting dust bunnies and I'm paranoid about changing lenses on it.

I've not been able to get out a lot these last few months, but when I have I've probably used the fisheye 2/3 or even 3/4 of the time. The poor 10-22 must feel a bit neglected, but I'll certainly come back to it. I imagine that I'll go through phases of a few months at a time when I mostly use one and not the other.

Here are a couple more samples:


(20D, Tokina 10-17 fish, 13mm, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/1000th.)

This one was intended to be a "practical" shot rather than an "artistic" one, taken with the purpose of illustrating a nature reserve I help manage and maintain, though I like it on both levels. It is interesting because it shows how all-round useful a fisheye lens can be. ("All-round useful"? Did I just write that? Oh dear. No pun was intended.) In fact, I'm pretty sure that for this particular shot an orthodox rectilinear ultra-wide would look less realistic. It's been cropped, but only by the tiny bit I had to do after straightening the horizon (1.3 degrees rotation left).

If you look carefully you will see that the treeline where the grassland ends forms a slight rise. This is illusion: the ground there is flat, or near enough to it. Any wide angle lens is sensitive to the angle you hold the camera at, UWAs are more so, and the fisheye is much more so. I can't remember now if I decided that this didn't matter for this shot as I was more interested in getting the overall composition as I liked it, or whether I just messed things up same as usual. Oh, and before you decide that that sort of restriction is not for you - you like things to look "realistic" - go and find a picture of a similar scene from a similar angle taken with a rectilinear lens (a small lake will do, or anything that does that curving-away horizontal line thing) and look carefully at it. Are straight things straight? Are horizontal things horizontal? Is everything the right size? If you say "yes" to all three, you need an eye doctor.


Now for something different. I have no real excuse for this one. I practically never take pictures of buildings unless they are falling down and covered in moss or something, and I'm certainly not fond of power poles, but for no reason I can put my finger on I like this shot of sunrise over a farmhouse. (And no, I am not interested in doing an HDR version of it. Most HDRs are horrble, fit to be sold in tacky gold frames to tracksuited mothers-of-three at K-Mart for $9.99, of which $9.96 is for the frame.)

I'd stopped to take pictures of the mist and the shape of the valleys here, where the Central Victorian Highlands drop away to the Victorian Volcanic Plains, and this scene just caught my eye and insisted on being photographed just as you see it.


(20D, Tokina 10-17 fish, 14mm, ISO 200, f/8, 1/400th.)

17-07-2008, 12:09am
it might encourage me to post something other than birds!

maybe take some pictures of fish? just for a joke :D ;)

17-07-2008, 12:23am
the Tokina fisheye is great for the APS-C DSLR (1.6crop) and would be the best seller of fisheyes next to the Canon's own.. personally I prefer the Canon due to better sharpness, contrast and colours are just right thanks to the superior coating and love having the f/2.8 if you need it.. since I mainly use full frame the Tokina is not much good since it is made for APS-C DSLRs.. on the other hand due to the crop natures of APS-C cams you lose too much of the fisheye effect when using the Canon fisheye so for those I definitely can recommend the Tokina.

17-07-2008, 2:19pm
Good shots Tony.
I bought a fisheye earlier this year without any intention of buying one. I went into the store to buy my 90mm Tammy and in the used section was a Sigma 15mm fisheye. It looked brand new and at only $300 wasn't going to stay there for long so I bought it. I'm really glad I did. While I don't use it all of the time it's a great option for certain shots and as you've demonstrated, you can have photos with that typical fisheye look while others aren't too distorted. I sometimes use mine for really wide angle landscapes. As long as the horizon line is kept flat then they usually turn out alright. The distortion can always be fixed in photoshop if need be.

08-12-2009, 9:16am
18 months on - I can't believe I've had the little Tokina fish for more than a year already - and it continues to be one of my favourite lenses. I go through phases when I use it a lot, then I switch to the 10-22 rectilinear UWA, then I don't use wide angle much at all for a while. Partly it's just mood and what grabs your creative fancy, partly it's where you are and what you are photographing. The long and the short of it though is that I have not regretted buying this delightful little lens for one moment.

From the weekend just gone: more fun with powerlines:


(40D, 10mm, 100i, f/6.3, 1/250th, -1/3rd.)

There is something very pleasing about reproducing the things I like in this picture naturally (the river, the vegetation, the old wooden railway bridge) and bending the things I don't like (power lines) way out of shape.

08-12-2009, 1:32pm
Nice, i'll admit i've only used it on the one weekend since i've purchase mine over a month ago...
but i have no regrets cos i like the results it can produce and enjoy the novelty factor :D
Variety is the spice of life!!

Gregg Bell
08-12-2009, 5:58pm
thanks for this thread Tannin, now a fisheye is on my shortly... bleh another thing to hurt my nearly empty bank account

10-12-2009, 9:28am
I see that over in another thread (http://www.ausphotography.net.au/forum/showthread.php?t=45425) the phillistines are denying the utility of fisheye lenses. So I'll keep posting more examples of what seem to me to be perfectly decent photographs, all taken with the magic little Tokina.


(40D, Tokina 10-17 @ 15mm, 100i, f/5.6, 1/250th, -2/3rds. JPG straight from the camera and not processed in any way at all other than resizing - I should play with this picture a bit more to bring out the colours better, but I haven't decided what or how yet.)

11-11-2010, 1:06am
Hard to believe I've had this lens for two and a half years already! here are two new ones. Errr .. shot almost two and a half years ago but I'm very slack about sorting, post-processing, and posting images!



First one at 10mm, second one at 17m, both on the 20D.

11-11-2010, 2:23am
a lot of fish talk there... (from your last fishy post)
i love my 15mm canon fish and as you have demonstrated used with some thought you can hide the distortion.
so wide so fun..

05-06-2011, 7:47pm
More than three years on, and I still like the lens, and still use it frequently. I seem to go in phases: use it lots for a while, then barely touch it and stick to the rectilinear ultra-wide instead for a few months. These last few months I've been pretty much exclusive with the 10-22, but I daresay I'll be back fishing soon enough.

Here is one from last year that I like.


(20D, Tokina 10-17 fish @ 10mm, 100i, f/7.1, 1/160th.)

I'm not quite happy with the colours I've achieved with the raw conversion, and one day I'll go back and try it again. But that's nothing to do with the lens, just me being lazy.

05-06-2011, 7:53pm
Now a scene which looks a little "fishy" but would look much less realistic if I'd used an orthodox UWA.


(20D, Tokina 10-17 fish @ 10mm, 100i, f/7.1, 1/800th.)

These sorts of nature scenes are where the fish absolutely shines. Nothing else can achieve such a natural look while retaining the field of view.

05-06-2011, 8:51pm
Hi Tannin
I like my Sigma 10-20 very much & would call it my favourate.
I wouldn't call it a 'fish-eye' though. By definition a fish-eye is a round, very distorted image.
I have used my 10-20 for close-up of flowers OK at 0.25 mm min focus :th3:

05-06-2011, 10:00pm
Hi Col,

Yes, ultra-wide lenses are a lot of fun. :)

You say you wouldn't call your Sigma 10-20 a 'fish-eye'. Absolutely not! Your 10-20 is a rectilinear ultra-wide lens, quite different to a fish.

But when you say "by definition a fish-eye is a round, very distorted image" you are not really getting the point. A fish-eye image isn't any more or less distorted than a rectilinear image taken at the same focal length. Let's work an example:

You and I take the same shot: you with your Sigma 10-20 UWA at 11mm, me with my Tokina 10-17 fish, also at 11mm. For the purposes of the experiment, we will assume that we have identical camera settings, exposure and (so far as possible) composition.

Now let's look at the pictures. Yours is distorted. Objects near the corners are far too large. Mine is distorted - straight lines that don't pass through the centre of the lens are curves.

Which shot is "correct"? Neither!

So how can you get a "correct" shot? You can't. It is impossible.

Do normal and telephoto lenses distort too? Yes, but you don't ever notice it, not unless the angle of view is wide - say about the angle you'd get at about 18 or 20mm on most cameras. (Technically, it isn't the lens doing the distorting, but we will come to that in a moment.)

So the only way to get an almost "correct" reproduction of a very wide scene would be to take a series of shots with, say, a 100mm lens (which is almost distortion free) and stitch them together? No - you would wind up with much the same end result as the picture you took with the 10-20 UWA.

So it is completely impossible to get a distortion-free picture with a very wide angle of view - say, more than about 90 degrees? Yes. Well, there is one way - but you need to project the image onto the inside of a sphere.

This sounds like mapping the surface of the earth! Exactly! It is impossible to map the earth onto a flat surface without distorting something.

Check out this site: http://www.icsm.gov.au/mapping/map_projections.html

Your Sigma 10-20 rectilinear lens produces images similar to a Mercator projection map. There isn't an exact equivalent there (among the map projections listed) of the fisheye projection, but the first, "azim uthal projection", example is rather similar.

05-06-2011, 10:31pm
Yes that is OK.
What I guess I was meaning was that a nice 'fish-eye' will give you a circle image with the edges (trees, walls, paths & sky etc) curving from the bottom to the top & left to right, giving a nice border or framing.

05-06-2011, 10:33pm
Hi Tannin
I like my Sigma 10-20 very much & would call it my favourate.
I wouldn't call it a 'fish-eye' though. By definition a fish-eye is a round, very distorted image.
I have used my 10-20 for close-up of flowers OK at 0.25 mm min focus :th3:

That should be 250 mm or 0.25 metres.

05-06-2011, 10:47pm
Doh! I didn't notice either! The good old Sigma 10-20mm super-extra-macro, eh?